THE WARRIORS bounced back from two losses with a convincing win over Stoneham on Wednesday. (Brian Cusack File Photo)
By DAN BYRNE
WAKEFIELD—On Wednesday, the Wakefield High boys’ basketball team welcomed Middlesex League rival Stoneham into the Charbonneau Field House, as they looked to get back on track after falling in defeat to Lexington on the road Monday night.
“Lexington kind of put it on us. It was nice to come out and play like we did,” first year Warriors head coach Colin Halpin said following the game.
Stoneham came in looking to use their enormous size to dominate down low, as they had last season. Last year, Spartan center Peter Godfrey had 30 points in a game against Wakefield but that was before Wakefield freshman Matt Beaver was on the team.
Coach Halpin called Beaver’s number to start the game against the 6’5” 300-pound Godfrey.
“Matt’s been playing really well in practice and every time he gets in the game he makes the most of it so, (assistant coach) Tom (Leahy) and I decided that it was time to give him a go and see what he could do with the starting lineup. And I thought he played really well,” the coach said. “I don’t really look at him as a freshman, he’s really mature for his age.”
Not only did Beaver, as well as Max Cusack and Owen Michaud off the bench, keep the Spartans’ big man in check, they held him to scoring single digits as Godfrey was only able to manage 9 points all night.
“We had a great day of practice yesterday, it kind of started in practice, you could see the energy and it carried over to tonight,” Halpin added.
The Warriors came out strong in the first quarter, quickly opening up a 9-2 lead. Junior Michael Wilkinson and senior captain Andrew Quinn were instrumental in the Warriors establishing their advantage. Wakefield came out and extended trapping defensive pressure on the Spartans in the backcourt, causing many passes the Spartans threw to be tipped and intercepted leading to easy opportunities to score.
When asked about the quick pace and high pressure his team played with, coach Halpin said, “That’s something Andrew (Quinn) and I talked about yesterday, he needs to be the guy that gets us playing with pace, cutting hard and he needs to hold guys accountable, he did a great job.”
Wilkinson scored 6 of his game-high 15 points in the first quarter, while Quinn added 3 of his 12 points in the first.
“Mike had really good bounce back game from his last time out. I tell him all the time when he scores the ball we’re a much better team, he did that tonight and it showed,” the coach said of the game’s leading scorer.
After the first quarter, the Warriors held an 18-8 lead and kept that momentum rolling right through the second quarter into halftime.
In the 2nd, the Warriors got hot from beyond the arc, sinking three 3-pointers en route to a 19 point second quarter.
Senior captain Jeff DiFazio knocked down his 2nd deep ball of the game, while Wilkinson and Sean Russell hit their target from long range. DiFazio had 10 of his 14 points in the first half.
With their active hands on defense, and quick transitioning from defense to offense, the Warriors were able to run rampant over the Spartans, sending their opponent into halftime down by 21 points.
Stoneham came out in the 3rd quarter and hit some shots. Jack Bunnell came in and scored 8 points including two 3-pointers for the Spartans. However, the Warriors never let up their defensive pressure, and the Spartans continued to have issues passing the ball.
Warrior junior Ethan Margolis brought the energy on defense, helping turn over the Spartans time and time again with on-ball pressure and trapping in the backcourt. Margolis tallied his only 4 points of the game in the 3rd quarter. He also helped lead Andrew Quinn to some easy baskets as the Warrior captain had 7 points in the quarter.
The game was well in hand after three quarters as the Warriors led 56-30 heading into the final frame.
DiFazio and Wilkinson put the game away with early 4th quarter points, as the Warriors stormed to a 30 point lead in the 4th quarter.
In the end, it was just what coach Halpin wanted to see heading into the Holiday break as Wakefield claimed a 68-45 victory.
Wakefield finished with four players in double digits as De’Ari Burton chipped in 10 points off the bench to join Wilkinson, DiFazio and Quinn.
It was a fine way for Halpin’s team to wrap up the year before the holidays.
“We have one more practice, before a break for the holidays. Then it’s back to work on Sunday.”
The Warriors will be back in action again on Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. when they host Arlington.